Monday, September 14, 2015

Raising our sons to be men ...

There's just something about raising boys!

We raised two sons of our own and now have four precious grandsons. I can honestly say there is a lot of joy in raising boys. Let me explain ...

A baby boy is a man in the making, pre-wired with all that's needed to develop into an adult male. Thankfully, he doesn't sport any whiskers or smelly armpits ... yet!  Still dependent on his Mama, he cuddles next to her and pats her face. Then he opens his little mouth and plants warm, slobbery kisses on her cheek, chin or forehead. Not once does he worry someone will think he is a "sissy." And we mothers love it!

As they grow, most little boys enjoy toys like little Hotwheels, tractors, Lincoln logs and Legos. They also enjoy bikes, sports, going fishing and hiking in the woods (while moms worry about snakes).

The boys we raised didn't mind getting dirty, either. They weren't too particular about mud or grass stains or holes in their jeans. If they were called on to work the farm, they flexed their little-boy muscles and pitched in. If someone said "Isn't that heavy?" they would more than likely swagger a bit and say, "Naw!"  (Photo: Kevin in the middle, Jason on the right, friend Kyle on the left).

Boys don't mind the rain like girls do, either. They don't have to worry about their hair or makeup, nor do they mind stomping through any puddle in their path. Now and then, when we had a really good rain that caused low-land flooding and run-off, our rural drainage ditches would practically boil over with muddy water. And that attracts a real boy!

In my experience (having grown up with a brother and later being blessed with two sons and four grandsons), I've learned younger boys are pretty low-maintenance. If you give them room to run and a few simple toys, they can entertain themselves for hours and hours. With a little free time, their imaginations kick in and toys will often become unnecessary.

When not infatuated with electronic gadgets, most boys will get outdoors and explore their world. Before cell phones and iPads, our son and his best buddy next door went outdoors a lot to climb hills and bluffs, to plan and build a cave for an escape route in case of enemy attacks. Another time, they designed plans for a fort, "just in case." Nobody suggested it - they just did it because they were boys.
Another important point: Boys are fairly easy to feed. As long as there is good food and enough of it to fill their tummies, they're fine.  If it's up to them, they'd gladly palm a sandwich and run back outdoors with their "fast food."  When moms insist on having them sit down, nice dinnerware and attention to manners can be a painful experience for boys. They'd much rather wolf it down, slurp their drinks and let out a good belch when they're finished.

But any mother worth her salt will insist, now and then, on setting a fine table. She'll use her best dishes, arrange the flatware properly and add a nice centerpiece or candles. This is called introducing our sons to "culture." One day those same fellas are going to be young men.  At a formal dinner or nice restaurant they will feel awkward and embarrassed if they don't know how to conduct themselves. That's why the Lord gave boys their mothers, right?

Little men-in-the-making also enjoy flexing their muscles and playing the part of brave knights, warriors and heroes. They have an inborn tendency to protect or rescue the helpless and display their bravado on any occasion. Thus, the plastic swords, swaggering walk and slingshots on the floor of their closet or tucked under their beds. And that should make us moms feel much safer, you know.  But one thing we must never do, and that is to tease or ridicule their attempts to play the grown-male role. Thank your sons for carrying heavy packages, pushing the loaded grocery cart and checking to see if doors are locked before bedtime or on the way out before leaving for a trip to town.

Young sons play act, but they are also seriously preparing for the read deal - the important role of protector and family man some day.  In their play, they don't try to negotiate with serious enemies -- they just wrestle them down and tie them up or throw them in jail .. all in the name of patriotism, play-acting and male bravado. You see, if we encourage and allow them to act out these situations in play, they will grow up to be strong young men with convictions of right and wrong and the courage needed to defend and protect their own families one day.

But every now and then, boys need to put down their toy swords and other weapons to read a good book... or have one read aloud to them. When they're toddlers, their books may be soft and fuzzy farm books or books about all kinds of trucks and cars.

 As they grow, their story books should also include topics that prepare them for manhood... books about the great outdoors, tracking animals, hunting and fishing, how to set up a tent or shelter, how to cook over a wood fire and all kinds of outdoor adventure and the safety rules that go with those adventures.  Other good book titles will introduce them to heroes and inventors, famous scientists and businessmen, historical and contemporary men that are to be admired. This gives boys an opportunity to daydream about all kinds of adventures and careers.

As we are blessed to visit with our children and interact with our grandsons - two in Virginia and two in south Alabama - I see the little men inside them already developing.  They like tractors and trains, building Lincoln log forts, riding with Papaw on his tractor and running around outdoors.  I pray they will be fine young men like their Dads.

We Moms do have a lot of impact in our sons' lives, and that is also part of God's plan.  We teach them how they are to treat girls and ladies. We love them as they are, because God's plan for boys is to grow up and become brave, strong men.  He has a grand purpose for their lives, and we as parents are to train them while they are young to follow His leading. What a joy it is to be part of God's plan in shaping them in their younger years. Thank You, Lord, for our sons and our four young grandsons!

What a blessing it is to experience the joys of boys ... again!

No comments:

Post a Comment

"Thanks for sharing your thoughts ..."